Scott Engler writes:
I’ve been studying and practicing the martial art of Aikido for a long time, 25 years in fact. This year, the dojo where I practice, Petaluma's Two Rock Aikido, is supporting the first East African Aikido Seminar ever. In mid-November students from the East African nations of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia will gather for the first time to practice this martial art which teaches embodied principles for resolving conflict in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I am writing to ask you to join me in supporting this unusual and powerful event.
This is my personal request. Please read below to understand my excitement and to learn how your donation could win a raffle for a 75min craniosacral session with me. As little as $10 will be helpful. If you and 19 others donate $50 we would easily raise my goal of $1,000.
Historically, aikido students from East African countries are isolated from each other, despite their proximity, and have no contact with or opportunity to befriend their neighbors. Given this situation, simply bringing together aikido students from these six countries at the East African Aikido Seminar is groundbreaking. Primarily only African Aikido teachers will lead the classes, and tribal elders will have comparable time to present their traditional practices on how to deal with conflict. Members of the Japanese and American embassies will attend, as well.
The goal is to inaugurate an East African Aikido Association to sustain and strengthen the connections made during these four days. The limited number of westerners attending are not to teach, but to support and foster what is already emerging within that region and its peoples through the non-political and non-religious art of peace – aikido.
My friend Tesfaye Tekelu who grew up in Ethiopia gets the credit for laying the groundwork that has made all this possible. I met him first ten years ago when he came to live at our dojo and trained with us. I spent some time with him his first weekend here and learned to appreciate his warm, easygoing qualities, as well as his strong vision drawing him to be Ethiopia’s first Aikidoist. After earning his shodan rank (black belt) he returned to Ethiopia and started the first aikido dojo there.
Since that time he has started 4 more aikido dojos and created a nonprofit organization, the Institute for Social Advancement, under whose umbrella these projects are fostered. There are currently 200 students, ages 8-29 years, two-thirds male and one-third female, who originate from 10 of Ethiopia’s 87 different tribes and live in both urban and rural surroundings. Approximately 20% are orphaned and were previously living on the street and not attending school. None of the students is now homeless and all appropriately-aged children and adolescents are enrolled in school. Tesfaye’s goal is to develop an aikido presence in Ethiopia that addresses alternative ways of dealing with conflict.
And here’s the link to a short, inspiring BBC video of the first woman in East Africa to receive her black belt in aikido https://vimeo.com/220722532
Also click on the video on my crowdrise page to hear Tesfaye and Richard Strozzi-Heckler, our dojo's chief instructor, talk about aikido’s role in the lives of Ethiopia’s future leaders.
Please help me support this effort with a donation, if you are so moved, for these people leading the way toward a more peaceful future. In return 100% of these funds will provide only for the Africans attending the seminar. Here is a breakdown of how our money will serve: $50 - bus transportation for an Ethiopian attendee; $100 - bus transportation and meals for an Ethiopian attendee; $200 - all seminar expenses for an Ethiopian attendee; $500 - all seminar expenses for an Ethiopian elder and his/her assistants; $1000 - all seminar expenses, including air travel, for an East African attendee outside of Ethiopia. The more money we raise, the more young leaders will be able to participate in the seminar. Aikido is making a difference in Ethiopia, in teaching alternatives to violence and cultivating well-being, community, and a dignified self respect.
If you'd prefer to send a check, contact me and I'll give you the information for that method.
In return for your donation I am happy to enter your name in a raffle for a craniosacral session with me. Stay tuned.
And thank you for taking the time to read this.
In gratitude, and wishing you wellbeing and peace,